Decorating tricks, treats
It's fall, there's a nip in the air. The sun is lower, the days are shorter, the light changes. And there's a truly fun, whimsical holiday ahead in Halloween. So it's time to think about some fall decorating, inside and outside the house.
Fun with figures
Vaillancourt Folk Art of Sutton, Mass., has revived the ancient art of chocolate molding. Instead of using chocolate, however, they're making chalkware figures from antique molds. The figures are intricately hand-painted in glorious colors. Judi and Gary Vaillancourt began making the figurines about a decade ago, and today their works are highly sought collectibles. There are jack-o'-lanterns, black cats and witches for Halloween, turkeys for Thanksgiving, and Santas and snowmen and myriad other motifs for Christmas. Prices range from $30 for a sitting black cat 3f inches tall to $3,000 for a 30 1/2 -inch-tall Father Christmas, but most items are in the $80-to-$200 bracket. Vaillancourt figures are available locally at Everyday's a Holiday, on the second floor of the Pratt Street Pavilion at Harborplace (800-761-3020). You can also call Vaillancourt at 508-865-0434, or check out its Web site at www.valfa.com.
Gourd candles, spooky cutout garlands (bats, jack-o'-lanterns and ghosts), candy-corn place holders, a painted tablecloth and ideas for making costumes are among the many projects offered in "Handmade Halloween," a new book from Country Living magazine (Hearst Books, 1999, $19.95). Subtitled "Ideas for a happy, haunted celebration," the book also offers tips on setting up a "haunted" house and playing "spooky" party games; lists scary books and movies; and gives recipes for such mealtime treats as maple pecan sweet potatoes and pumpkin cheesecake.
A fall treat for adults is the myriad of foliage, seedpods, cool-weather fruit and drying "weeds" that can make or contribute to a seasonal holiday centerpiece. Southern Living magazine has some suggestions: Clip hydrangea blossoms and dry them inside, then mix the muted colors in a simple vase. Or arrange seedpods, such as crepe myrtle, in a loose cluster in an urn, an old bucket or a basket. A walk in the woods should yield other pretty plants -- just don't choose toxic things, such as poison ivy and poison sumac, or things that are still shedding a lot of pollen.
* "Sensuous Surfaces" is the title of a new exhibition at Baltimore Clayworks, 5706 Smith Ave. in Mount Washington. The show features California artist Lana Wilson and five other artists of her choosing whose work involves several techniques that yield "luscious" surfaces. The show runs through Nov. 13. Baltimore Clayworks' hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 410-578-1919, or visit its Web site at www.baltimoreclayworks.org.
* The 26th semi-annual Mid- Atlantic Antiques Market will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this coming Sunday at the Howard County Fairgrounds, on Route 144 in West Friendship (take Exit 80 off Interstate 70). There will be more than 100 dealers offering everything from period decorative arts to folk art and Americana. General admission is $6 per person. Early admission from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. is $15. --K.M.
Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Karol V. Menzie, Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or fax to 410-783-2519. Information must be received at least four weeks in advance to be considered.